Many people know that hypertension–high blood pressure–is bad for you. It’s always checked at our doctor’s appointments, and medications for high blood pressure–such as beta blockers, diuretics, and ACE inhibitors–are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the US.
But few people realize that the complications of hypertension go beyond your heart and lungs. And even fewer realize that sleep apnea shares many of the same complications.
Sleep Apnea Contributes to Hypertension
In understanding the overlap in complications between these two conditions, it’s important to know that sleep apnea significantly increases a person’s risk of hypertension. When sleep apnea cuts off your supply of air, the brain senses the oxygen shortage and orders the heart to beat harder to try to supply more oxygen. This increases blood pressure in the short term, and repeated incidences damage the regulatory mechanisms that are supposed to keep blood pressure in check.
As a result, hypertension is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea, and many people with hypertension developed it because of their sleep apnea.
Hard on the Heart
As we mentioned, hypertension and sleep apnea are hard on the heart. They can lead to many serious cardiovascular complications. Angina–chest pain–is associated with both hypertension and sleep apnea. As is heart failure. These risks are related to the extra strain put on the heart by working hard in the high-pressure environment.
Hypertension and sleep apnea also increase your risk of stroke. The high pressure can damage delicate blood vessels in the brain, making them more likely to rupture, causing a hemorrhagic stroke. And the blood pressure can dislodge plaque in the arteries, which then travels to the brain and blocks blood vessels, causing an ischemic stroke.
Red Blood, Blue Mood
High blood pressure and sleep apnea can also contribute to an increased risk of depression. With hypertension, this is typically a side effect of medications. With sleep apnea, it’s mostly related to the poor rest for people with the condition. Having your sleep interrupted hundreds of times a night doesn’t make for a restful, rejuvenative night.
You’ll Never See It Coming
Hypertension has long been noted for its link to vision loss. It’s been linked to two of the most frightening causes of vision loss: glaucoma and retinopathy. Glaucoma occurs most often when high pressure in the eye fluid leads to damage to the optic nerve. With this condition, vision loss can be sudden and irreparable.
Retinopathy occurs when the pressure in the blood vessels supplying the retina (which captures light and changes it into brain signals) damages the retina itself.
Low Desire and Low Performance
Hypertension can lead to significant sexual dysfunction. It can damage a man’s ability to get and maintain an erection. It can also reduce libido for both men and women, hampering sexual function still further.
And while we’re in the area, it’s important to note that high blood pressure can also damage your kidneys. The delicate filtering mechanisms in the kidney can be damaged by the elevated blood pressure.
You Won’t Have a Bone to Pick
Even your bones will be impacted by high blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause your body to eliminate more calcium, which can lead to low-density and weakened bones.
The Next Steps for Health
If you are facing these risks of hypertension and sleep apnea, you may seek to get your high blood pressure treated. But in many cases, you can’t treat hypertension until you treat your sleep apnea. If you have hypertension and symptoms of sleep apnea, such as daytime sleepiness and morning headaches, you should talk to your doctor or a sleep dentist about your condition.
In the San Jose area, please call (408) 354-5600 today for an appointment at Top Down Dental In Los Gatos.